/ Home & Energy

What happens if the lights go out?

Light bulbs against blue background

Britain’s energy regulator issued the first of its annual Electricity Capacity Assessments. Its conclusions could have wide-ranging impacts on energy prices and has provoked rumours of potential black outs in 2015.

Ofgem expects some coal-fired power stations will have to stop generating electricity because of long-standing environmental legislation. The power stations are deemed too environmentally damaging to keep operating and may have to be closed before the winter of 2015-16.

This means that the amount of spare electricity capacity in the network to keep your kettle boiling could dip from a comfortable 14% to a much more risky 4% in three years time. The risk of power cuts then becomes much greater.

Risk of power cuts

Power cuts and possible price hikes – sounds like something needs to be done. In fact, the issue of electricity capacity has been on the political agenda for some time. And in May the government published a Draft Energy Bill to deal with this (the full legislation will be published later this year).

The Energy Bill will aim to address the issue of a shortfall in electricity, the idea being that it will put in place mechanisms to secure the billions of pounds worth of investment that we need for new power generation like wind farms and nuclear power plants.

Ofgem also urged the government to make a decision on what is known as a capacity mechanism which is basically a way of ensuring a certain amount of capacity is available. Of course that’s all essential if we want to keep the lights on but who foots the bill for that investment? You guessed it, we, the consumer are picking up the tab.

Affordable energy for everyone

We want to see the government put affordability for the consumer at the heart of the reforms to the energy market. If you’re already struggling to pay your bills you cannot be expected to stump up endless amounts of cash. We will be pressing the government to make sure affordability is high on the agenda in the Energy Bill.

Domestic energy bills have been on the up in recent years and that’s unlikely to change in the near future. This is partly due to the need for investment in new power generation. And even if we don’t make this investment, prices are likely to go up due to our reliance on gas generated abroad.

Time and again you’ve told us that rising prices for gas and electricity are one of your major concerns so we want to make sure that no further strain is put onto household budgets this way. Do you think the government is doing enough to make sure we have an affordable energy system?

Dennis says:
13 October 2012

Having read the numerous comments and suggestions re electricity generation, no one mentioned the millions of tons of domestic and industrial waste that could be utilised to generate power. The EU has declared that we must stop using landfill sites so this a golden opportunity to do something worthwhile with this mountain of waste.

Phil says:
13 October 2012

Our local landfill already taps off the methane to generate electricity which is fed to the grid but plans to build the sort of energy from waste plant you describe have been met with strong opposition from the usual NIMBYs.

Simon T says:
13 October 2012

I am worried that politicians only consider the short-term affordability of energy. If we want long-term affordability we can’t rely on imported energy nor nuclear whose long-term waste management costs are consistently ignored by the pro-nuclear lobby.

We certainly need to persue a low carbon energy policy. Electricity from wind farms may cost more in the short-term but should be cheaper in the long run because of the very low input costs.

What happens when you’ve GOT all electricity?

It’s in the article’s title. The lights etc go out in some areas until sufficient electricity is available.

Low energy lamps – CFL or compact fluorescent – have a significant effect on your consumption and what you pay. A house with GLS (tungsten, incandescent) lamps will typically account for about 10% of your annual consumption, whereas CFLs would be about 2.5%. Could save you £70 a year, but just as importantly, reduce peak demand on the supply system. Think of how man households would contribute to the saving.
They are not quite as nice a colour as incandescent, but have improved greatly. They do last about 5x as long, but I find one major deficiency. Domestic CFLs have the electronic control circuit built in to the lamp – it gets thrown away when the CFL fails. Commercial CFLs use a separate electronic controller that will outlast the lamp 10 times, and runs the lamp more efficiently. So why do we not push to use this type? Because the initial cost would be a little greater. But we are losing out. Something to lobby the EU on.

@ Malcom R.

Another factor to consider with CFL’s and other low(er) energy lamps is that most are nothing like as bright as they are claimed to be, which gives rise to people ending up using multiple-lamps to replace a single tungsten lamp. This eats into the potential savings very greatly indeed. (Tons on the CFL convo’s about this if anyone needs more info.)

There’s also the situation which another poster (sorry, forget who) has recently pointed out: when we “save” energy there is so often a temptation to think “Oh, now I can just plug in ……. and it’ll cost no more than it did when I only had [item changed for low energy]” – so it’s all still about educating, coercing, and forcing people to take responsibility.

When I was young it was common to light rooms with a central ceiling mounted lamp with one or several incandescent bulbs. Table lamps, standard lamps, wall lamps and bedside lamps were used when less lighting was needed. Over the years, lighting has become decorative, aided by the introduction of inefficient ‘candle’ bulbs and then small halogen bulbs, which are not much more efficient than old fashioned bulbs. In some cases this has greatly added to the amount of electricity used for lighting. The most extreme case is perhaps the replacement of one or two highly efficient fluorescent tubes with a myriad of reflector lamps or halogen downlighters in kitchens. Security lighting has also become more popular, often lights that are on all night rather than just ones activated by movement.

I really think we need to go back to using lighting for a function and find other ways of decorating our homes. LED lighting is very efficient but small point sources of light could be used for decorative rather than functional purposes. I have recently seen examples of LED lighting used for indoor decoration during the day and every Christmas we go mad decorating the outside of buildings with ever more LED lights. Maybe we do need a few power cuts to get everyone to engage their brains and realise that we cannot go on wasting power.

Couldn’t agree more Wavechange – and quiet apart from useless decorative lighting and so on, I am so pig-sick of people turning lights on the second they enter a room, come day or night, rain or shine, as a matter of habit. Lord knows how many millions of kWh are wasted daily, especially in our offices and schools, by having lights on when they are not needed, all day every day.

As for the “Blackpool Illuminations” that are now applied to the outside of so many houses …if only they were all LED! Sadly countless millions of lamps are actually still tungsten in such decorations. In my house I have a Christmas Tree which has on it 3 strings of Christmas Tree Lights – 3 strings of 12 lamps in 3 pre-war sets of lights inherited down the generations! And that’s QUITE ENOUGH. Why would anyone decorate outside when you are inside unable to see the things?!?!?! Madness.

And then we can get back on some of my other old hobby horses of course; what about vacuum cleaners? Modern vac’s use 2kW or more – that’s a 2-bar electric fire! They don’t, however, clean as well as an old Hoover Junior using 250watts (or 0.25 kW). Sheer waste of energy. Lawnmowers? 2kW motors in rotary or hover mowers and yet a 1984 Black and Decker 1kW mower is lighter and easier to use and cuts better, and a 2007 Qualcast Super 30S cylinder mower has a 200 watt motor (0.2kW) and cuts better than any rotary. Best of all a PUSH mower uses 0kW but keeps the operator fitter in the process of using it. Use an electric shower? That’s something like 10 or more kW then. Why not have a pumped shower off the hot water cylinder, with the pump using less than 500w (0.5kW) and the hot water being heated at least in part by solar energy.

I’m not going to go on and on and bore people to tears, but I think that if any one of us sat down and made an honest list of wasteful appliances / lifestyles we could easily fill several pages in next to no time.


You have often bemoaned the increasing power consumption of modern appliances, so here is my contribution. I frequently run mains appliances on portable inverters connected to car or boat batteries and find myself using old appliances to prevent overloading. For example, I have to use my 32 year old Electrolux cylinder cleaner rather than a relatively modern Miele vacuum. It’s the same with old and new pressure washers (both Karcher) and angle grinders. The new appliances won’t work but old ones work fine.

I’m still using a 6 kW electric shower daily too. I wondered whether I should update it when I bought the house 30 years ago, but it does the job and I now see it as a contribution to saving power.

The_Engineer says:
13 October 2012

This situation has been known about for 10 years or more and became critical from 2008. Our beloved labour government (and I use the term ironically) has shown what it thinks of the problem by burying its head in the sand and then hoping (praying) that the Chinese would fund a French or American Nuclear power plant building programme. Of course we do have the windmills – so that’s all-right then! The Conservative/liberal alliance has continued with the sitting on hands approach. [We have a government with almost zero engineers or scientists so they probably cannot even understand what the problem might be.] I expect we will get a royal commission, which should kick it another ten years down the road, and then perhaps the lawyers, classicists and PPEs could redefine then meaning of electricity and Maxwell’s equations, so the problem can be considered solved.

Sad to see a once great nation reduced to some third world status. Perhaps Africa will send us some ‘overseas’ aid. I expect the lights to start going out from 2014 (even if we can generate enough power it does NOT mean we can distribute it to where it is required). Head for the hills.

“We have a government with almost zero engineers or scientists”.
We have a country with not many more engineers or scientists.

peter wells says:
14 October 2012

The stupidity of successive governments in agreeing to the demise of coal fired power plants is beyond belief. The plants carry more of the summer load than they did years ago and still supply about half our daily production. They have a major advantage in the ability to store fuel on site. The early closure and downratoing of the Yorkshire and Midlands power plants is a national scandal. Emitting co2 is better than living in the dark! Who remembers the three day week? Expecting power from nuclear plants to time and budget is acting in defiance of history. This feature of government is not, however, confined to the power industry.

I think it’s fair to say that engineers having been predicting this problem for a lot longer than 10 years, I remember my electrical engineering lecturers were talking about this back in the 1970s, we already knew then what the predicted life of our nuclear plants was and they have lasted well beyond that point in most cases, so in effect we have been on borrowed time for much longer.
Other posters here have made many sensible suggestions, and that is what it will take to resolve this, like most of the problems that face this country at the moment, there is no magic bullet or one size fits all solution. What we need is diversity of generation and ways of saving energy.
A large proportion of the gas and coal that our power stations use is imported from parts of the world that are not particularly stable which adds to our vulnerability.
We led the world in fast breeder nuclear technology years ago which would have given us a degree of independence from the suppliers of fissile material, but it had nuclear arms implications and we walked away.
People laugh at the nuclear fusion solution as being “jam tomorrow” that has been “just round the corner” for 50 years, but in The Engineer magazine recently there was an article that said something like “The total world expenditure on fusion research since it began amount to the equivalent of just 27 days expenditure that the Americans make in the Afghanistan conflict” Now I don’t want to get into an argument about the rights or wrongs of that conflict, it just makes the point that the expenditure on fusion power across the world is tiny. I can’t help but think that this half hearted attempt is one of the reasons we have not succeeded yet.

That’s not to say that there are not problems with the fusion solution, but I’m amazed that governments who love “one size fits all” solutions have not backed this more heavily as it’s probably the nearest you’ll get to that “one size fits all” solution. Governments of course have a very short term approach to most things and an even more pressing matter of course….. getting re-elected and keeping their hands on the levers of power and their cronies in their expensive lifestyles….

The generators are playing a brinkmanship game. Privatisation gave them all the equipment at a knockdown price and they maximise profit by not investing in long term generation projects. Their intention now is to get taxpayers money for nothing. There needs to be a regulation that all generators must hold a spare percentage of generation at all times or pay a fine. They need an incentive to invest in sustainable generation.

Bazz B says:
14 October 2012

Malcolm S you have hit it right , these power operators/providers got all the equiptment for a good price (for them that is) and have refused to invest any of their profits in new plants because they were unsure how the future would go, and now, having made a vast amount of money from the privatisation gift they received from the government, and by not investing anything into updating these power plants, will expect the tax payer to foot the bill once again to build new power generators (for them), so they can rip us off for a second time,…………….and I suppose as per usual we will.

Tend to agree with that, you also have to bear in mind that a lot of our generating capacity is owned by foreign companies, who perhaps don’t share the worries about the lights going out here. I also hear rumours that these companies use the profits made here to subsidise their operations in their home countries, I have not found any proof of this, but given that most European countries have energy supply industries heavily controlled by their governments it would not surprise me

Re the comment on low energy lamp output – like most things you’ll get what you pay for. Buy a cheap Far Eastern version and you aren’t guaranteed the same quality as a reputable established brand. Those from the major manufacturers will be the ones to deliver what is claimed. It applies to both CFLs and LEDs.
Ceiling lights are not the best way of lighting many rooms – if you want to read, for example, you are better off with a local light. The same applies to offices – general lighting to move around the building can be at a lower light level than that you need for your work – keep that local on the work area and you’ll save energy.,
Lighting used “decoratively” – i.e. to make your home look more inviting – need not be high energy. Just needs a bit of thought in designing it and laying it out. Much nicer to have two or three low output table lamps maybe in a room than a bright ceiling light.

I suspect that most CFLs are made in the Far East. The well known brands are. I have only ever bought well known brands because I hope they are safer and more reliable. I have had no problems so far. Anyway, I fear that I am taking us off-topic.

I’m advocating that we should not waste energy on decorative lighting, not that we should necessarily use ceiling lights. I quite agree that localised lighting, such as reading lights, can be ideal. Low output table lamps are likely to be more efficient than a more powerful light via a dimmer. Dimmers cut down the brightness of incandescent/halogen lighting very effectively but do not save a great deal of power.

Oh dear! Who hasn’t even started to read David MacKay’s “Sustainable Energy — without the hot air”. (DMcK). There are so many myths out there which when combined with the politicians (uninformed and advised by partizan supporters) and their pop-chants leading to everyone shouting at each other. You may remember that I quoted a knowledgable friend saying that a non-affluent UK person consumes about 138 kWh/day for their individual use. This includes: the energy in food, farming and fertiliser (15 kWh/day); transport of the goods we buy (12 kWh/day); heating and cooling (37 kWh/day); our individulal jet flights (30 kWh/day; our car journeys (40 kWh/day); and down there, our lighting at just 4 kWh/day each – and oh, the new three-year old greedy feed we all use for Amazon, Google etc at 50 kWh/day each – ON AVERAGE. The sort of myth-breakers he evaluates are that switching off our chargers would save the energy equivalent of 1 second driving!

I must go and compose myself now before I unleach accusations of being a member of “the anti-wind” brigade or a “nuclear nut”. There are just so many misconceptions belief-herds out there. Please go and download (FREE) a little DMcK and start to read it.

DMcK spells all this out and you would have to be very well informed to contradict him.

Bazz B says:
14 October 2012

WHAT ! ! !……….

Lobro is bang on when it comes to the lack of knowledge most of us have about how much energy we all use, every day, in our modern situation.
There is no escape from the fact that if we wish to retain the standard of living most of us have, we can not rely on renewables for even a small part of it, as they are either intermittent or variable(wind/wave) or too little to make a difference (biomass).

Physics isn’t party to the arguments about what you “might like” or “wish” for.

Physics dictates the amount of energy you can get from a particular source (wind/coal/gas/wave/nuclear).

By saying it is possible to run the national grid on intermittent, renewable energy inputs, does not make it so.

The fact is, for every unit of waist material generated, you can get about one million times more energy out of nuclear than you can out of coal, oil, gas, etc. That’s a fact. Put it another way, for every tonne (1000Kg) of carbon released in carbon dioxide, there would be 1 gram of spent nuclear duel – about one quarter of a 1p piece! (The fact that it is not waste is another issue!)

When burning fossil fuels, about 60% of the energy is wasted as heat – most people don’t want a power station on their door step, so the heat goes into the air, and the same applied to nuclear, but that still leaves 400,000 times more energy as electricity in the grid!

I do wish the various myths about nuclear energy and its safety could be dispelled.

For instance there is at least 1 “natural nuclear reactor” (now inert) in west Africa – it came into existence about 2 billion years ago, and continued for make heat (lots of it) for about a million or so years. There was / is no radiation shield, no means of containment and yet no contamination has been found more than a few feet from the site after all this time!

Nuclear is the only way to produce clean (non-carbon dioxide releasing), reliable and sustainable amounts of electrical energy. Bring on fusion but fission is here, now and work should start ASAP on building the plants – they will even fit on the existing “brown field” sites of the old nuclear plants. Much of the grid infrastructure is in place, most locals are aware of the almost non-existent risk and many would welcome the work and money! And if anyone says the risks are too high, that is their opinion (which they are welcome to) and my opinion is they are totally wrong!

Peter Langdon says:
14 October 2012

Few climatologists and geologists believe in ‘Global warming’ anymore (except, of course, those having financial self interest) or ‘Global warming acceleration due to man’ as as it might better be described, or the new ‘Climate Change’ title replacement; this designed to confuse because the weather has always changed both in the past and the present, as have carbon dioxide levels.

The outcome of the new ‘Global Warming’ religion is the Government’s seriously inadequate energy policies and Ofgem’s prediction that there is now a ‘one in two’ chance of blackouts in three years time; to say nothing about closing down industry in cold weather to keep lights in the home on. It’s not that for many years now energy experts have repeatedly told Government, both old and new, of their concerns.

If the Government subsidies and feed-in tariffs added to all our fuel bills to fund both PV and wind farms, together with the £billions that cancellation of HS2 between London and Manchester would release were used it would enable gas fracking and the construction of both new gas and coal fired power stations to be funded. Thus there is still a chance to keep the lights on during the ten year construction period needed to build the new nuclear power stations – providing of course that having sold off our nuclear industry, Government can find a company to do so without further waste of time.
Wind farms, for reasons of continuity of output must not be used to provide for the UK’s base load needs because they produce a very small fraction of the total energy needed especially in winter when high atmospheric pressure leads to cold and little wind. They are also very uneconomic. Germany, seeing its wind policies have failed, is now building 25 coal fired power stations. Reports say China is building one every week.
Great care must be taken to ensure these costly green energy schemes do not price UK industry out of world markets.


Now let’s have a quick look at wind power – and don’t dismiss me as a member of a herd. I just like to look at facts so please provide me with any counter arguments you might have.

I have already posted in another Convo that:
RenewableUK state that “Every unit of electricity from a wind turbine displaces one from conventional power stations”. They omit the corollary that “Every unit of electricity that fails to be provided by a wind turbine has to be provided by one from conventional power stations”. Others have admitted to this problem but I find it clearly displayed day-by-day. There is a National Grid site that reports the power provided by the various sources over the previous 24 hours. Wind, for example, produced 2.7% of the total national usage on 11th Oct but on 10th Oct it only managed 0.5%! Most of the missing MWhs were provided by Combined Cycle Gas Turbines, probably at 45% efficiency. In really gusty weather when the output power of a wind turbine varies as the cube of the wind speed, the sudden absence of power when peak demand is required will mean use of a rapid-response conventional gas turbine at 29% efficiency. That’s not free energy is it? This is why there are serious discussions taking place as to who will pay for all those new gas turbine fired power stations when there is that massive increase in the number of off-shore wind turbines. Our government says the energy suppliers should do it – so that is why we are all being threatened with large increases in our bills.
One other consequence of wind power is the need for a new grid. It may even be a DC grid (as in Germany) to compensate for the large AC radiated losses when the power has to be transported over large distances. The new grids and old grid will be controlled by smart switches and our domestic smart meters. And all this will cost us, the consumer, billions.

So yes, we are going to have black-outs – all because of our technically uneducated politicians who are only interested in cow-towing to Europe, impressing us with their efforts at ‘saving the planet’ and praying that we will ensure their continuing Westminster income. Sorry to be such a cynic.

There is a glow on the horizon – arising from fracking! That could produce gas energy at one quarter of current gas costs (it does in the US). That could keep us going for over 100 years with our own national energy reserves – and therefore hostilities free. Yes we might have a few pollution incidents as we do with coal and oil but that’s better than hostilities. In the mean time we have thorium in need of funding by the tax-payer. Have a nice evening.
More to come. Lobro

Peter says:
14 October 2012

Malcolm R above fails to realise that the old style incandescent lamps helped to warm the home and thus cut down the cost of central heating. They were not used greatly in the long days of summer when heating was off anyway. Hence savings made by the replacements, bearing in mind also their extra cost, has probably been marginal.

ZANDER says:
14 October 2012

I’m surprised that none of the comments lay any blame at Westminster’s door. While a subsidy of £12 per kWh of electricity is paid to producers in the London area, the rest of the UK labours under penalties of as much as £21 per kWh because they have been stupid enough to produce hydro power in the Highlands and wind-generated power in Yorkshire rather than on London’s doorstep, the assumed market for all such electricity generated. This has hardly encouraged an extension in generation capacity ! Blame the UK government!!!

Peter, this is a myth. A 100W incandescent lamp will provide light + 100w heat for say 12p over 10 hours. 25W of CFL wil provide the same light + 25w of heat for 3p over 10 hours. If you need extra heating your gas boiler will provide the extra 75W for about 3.5p (allowing for conversion efficiency). So you are saving half the cost. Electricity is simple an expensive way to heat your house.

Malcolm R beat me with his explanation, Peter, and he is right. I would add that where we put lights is not generally the best place for heat sources, so using lights for heating is even worse than Malcolm suggests.

Mike says:
15 October 2012

Two points:-
1) Why on earth do we have to do what Brussels dictates in respect of coal and oil power stations? This is the only reason we are in danger of power cuts in the near future.
2) A decision to build more nuclear (very low carbon emission) power stations should have been taken years ago. As it is we will be lucky to see new nuclear in operation before 2020.

Mike, you are so right. Our useless politicians have ignored the inevitable for years. I complained to the press about the possibility of power cuts which could be forseen from the demand and supply recordings on the National Grid web site. Two papers picked it up and reported the same findings. National Grid denied that there was a problem and all was forgotten.

The true and far safer nuclear possibilities of thorium reactors were being re-discovered by Sorensen in the US in 2006. The real possibilities of these liquid fuelled reactors were actually demonstrated in the US in the 50’s but they couldn’t produce bombs or drive nuclear reactors so their inventor was sacked as the Director of Oak Ridge National Lab. His demo reactor worked as expected for over 2000 hours before it was scrapped.

That technology is virtually ready for realistic demonstration as far safer and cleaner than our current uranium pressurised water reactors. It can consume what the fearful call nuclear waste because most of it is unburnt fuel. Its own waste has a much shorter half-life and there is much less of it. It works at ambient pressure and its liquid fuel can’t be damaged by radiation. It can be re-fuelled online without losing output power etc. etc. It can be factory made to a standard design in small modular units (100MW) that require much less cooling water than our current multi-GW reactors.

The only problem is that it needs a supply of neutrons for it to start up and produce its own supply. The UK is only looking at one of the possible ways of doing this – with accelerators that are large and complex and in need of further development. The other simple way of starting a thorium reactor is by using a by-product of PWR uranium reactors – Uranium233. The US has over ten tons of this but they are about to contaminate it all and bury it in a waste dump. What’s more their 1957 nuclear materials act forbids the mining of thorium (and the associated rare-earth metals). Talk about shooting one’s-self in the foot! Politicians and partizan advisers – who needs them.

Sorry I’m on my hobby horse again.

Chris Fox says:
15 October 2012

The goverment wants many thousand new homes to be built around the country, and appears to be giving the builders the go ahead to build as many as possible. If the goverment insisted that each new house was fitted with solar panels etc, as a prerequisit to them being built, each house would become a mini power station, helping the energy shortage.

There’s also the economies to be made by fitting solar panels in bulk rather than piecemeal, and the quality of the workmanship could be better. Obviously the new homes should be orientated to maximise generating capacity. Perhaps the greatest benefit is that those who use the sun to generate electricity or heat water become more aware that power is not a limitless resource.

george d says:
16 October 2012

In the modern era,if everyone in this country reduced the use of gas/electricity for a period of twelve months.What would the gas/elect companies do.Answer the price would increase.The companies have to keep their profit margins.So why reduce,we are in a no win position,until the government gets to grips!

Such faith in the government! They are short term amateurs who rely on the Civil Service – and look at their competence (computer software, the Dome, Olympic overspend, defence bungling ….etc). They are in no position to help. An independent strong and effective consumer group needs to get some muscle, put an effective and fair proposition together and negotiate it through – that will depend on the support of its members.

How much electricity could be saved if traditional electric cooking hobs/ovens were replaced by induction cooking systems.
Induction devices could be subsidised or the traditional hobs/ovens could attract a new “carbon tax” to price them out of existance.
Add in a programme to insulate all properties (particularly in the public and private rented sectors).
Stand by devices (as in TV’s) should be banned.
Where incandescent lamps are still sold, they should attract a high rate of tax.
Electricity prices could be banded – the more you use, the higher the charge.
This might delay the onset of power shortages, but it would be a start.

It is encouraging to see that the former Welsh Secretary Peter Hain MP has resigned from the Shadow Cabinet to campaign for a £30b barrage across the Severn Estuary [http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-wales-18055602].
He would not do this unless there was a strong chance of success.
I suspect that this is more important than even than the HS2 rail project or electrification of the railways – they won’t be much use if there is a power outage, although governments might make the railways a priority user of electricity.

dyfnwal has some constructive suggestions, but some don’t always make sense.

For example, incandescent bulbs have a power factor of 1. CFLs I have measured have a very poor power factor, so in a domestic home they are, to the generator and distributor, quite inefficient.

Another example. I recommended to someone concerned about electricity bills that she try using a 250W incandescent bulb in preference to a CFL using a tenth of the power. She tried it all last week and was delighted with the saving. The reason, at current external temperatures she gets enough heat from the 250W incandescent spot immediately above her to avoid switching on the heater in her office. The incandescent bulb is currently saving between 750W and 2250W. So the old incandescent bulb can be a fuel-efficient heater in an electricity-only apartment. Should incandescent bulbs be taxed higher when they can clearly help save electricity?

I use a 250W incandescent spot in a room that has only short duration use, less than ten minutes at a time. It is the only form of heating available and it is ideal, being far more efficient, comfortable and responsive than adding a radiator to heat the room from my gas/wood fired hybrid central heating system. We need simple and creative systems.

Regarding price banding, in a previous post I made reference to the plans for ‘supply and demand’ pricing.